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Forum Post: The Go Nowhere Generation

Posted 2 years ago on March 17, 2012, 10:53 a.m. EST by ibanker (-99)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Here's an NYTimes article. You guys might find interesting

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/opinion/sunday/the-go-nowhere-generation.html?_r=3

Here is the full text of it

AMERICANS are supposed to be mobile and even pushy. Saul Bellow’s Augie March declares, “I am an American ... first to knock, first admitted.” In “The Grapes of Wrath,” young Tom Joad loads up his jalopy with pork snacks and relatives, and the family flees the Oklahoma dust bowl for sun-kissed California. Along the way, Granma dies, but the Joads keep going.

But sometime in the past 30 years, someone has hit the brakes and Americans — particularly young Americans — have become risk-averse and sedentary. The timing is terrible. With an 8.3 percent unemployment rate and a foreclosure rate that would grab the attention of the Joads, young Americans are less inclined to pack up and move to sunnier economic climes.

The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees. According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere. This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about.

For about $200, young Nevadans who face a statewide 13 percent jobless rate can hop a Greyhound bus to North Dakota, where they’ll find a welcome sign and a 3.3 percent rate. Why are young people not crossing borders? “This generation is going through an economic reset,” said John Della Volpe, who directs polling at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, which surveys thousands of young people each year. He reports that young people want to stay more connected with their hometowns: “I spoke with a kid from Columbus, Ohio, who dreamed of being a high school teacher. When he found out he’d have to move to Arizona or the Sunbelt, he took a job in a Columbus tire factory.”

In the most startling behavioral change among young people since James Dean and Marlon Brando started mumbling, an increasing number of teenagers are not even bothering to get their driver’s licenses. Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent. Though it’s easy to blame the high cost of cars or gasoline, Comerica Bank’s Automobile Affordability Index shows that it takes fewer weeks of work income to buy a car today than in the early 1980s, and inflation-adjusted gasoline prices didn’t get out of line until a few years ago.

Perhaps young people are too happy at home checking Facebook. In a study of 15 countries, Michael Sivak, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (who also contributed to the D.M.V. research), found that when young people spent more time on the Internet, they delayed getting their driver’s licenses. “More time on Facebook probably means less time on the road,” he said. That may mean safer roads, but it also means a bumpier, less vibrant economy.

All this turns American history on its head. We are a nation of movers and shakers. Pilgrims leapt onto leaky boats to get here. The Lost Generation chased Hemingway and Gertrude Stein to Paris. The Greatest Generation signed up to ship out to fight Nazis in Germany or the Japanese imperial forces in the Pacific. The ’60s kids joined the Peace Corps.

But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother. The Great Recession and the still weak economy make the trend toward risk aversion worse. Children raised during recessions ultimately take fewer risks with their investments and their jobs. Even when the recession passes, they don’t strive as hard to find new jobs, and they hang on to lousy jobs longer. Research by the economist Lisa B. Kahn of the Yale School of Management shows that those who graduated from college during a poor economy experienced a relative wage loss even 15 years after entering the work force.

Perhaps more worrisome, kids who grow up during tough economic times also tend to believe that luck plays a bigger role in their success, which breeds complacency. “Young people raised during recessions end up less entrepreneurial and less willing to leave home because they believe that luck counts more than effort,” said Paola Giuliano, an economist at U.C.L.A.’s Anderson School of Management. A bad economy can boost a person’s weighting of luck by 20 percent, Ms. Giuliano found.

Notice how popular the word “random” has become among young people. A Disney TV show called “So Random!” has ranked first in the ratings among tweens. The word has morphed from a precise statistical term to an all-purpose phrase that stresses the illogic and coincidence of life. Unfortunately, societies that emphasize luck over logic are not likely to thrive.

In the mid-’70s, back when every high school kid longed for his driver’s license and a chance to hit the road and find freedom, Bruce Springsteen wrote his brilliant, exciting album “Born to Run.” A generation later, as kids began to hunker down, Mr. Springsteen wrote his depressing, dead-end dirge, “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” We need to reward and encourage forward movement, not slouching. That may sound harsh, but do we really want to turn into a country where young Americans can’t even recognize the courage of Tom Joad?

Maybe it’s time to yank out the power cords, pump up the flat bicycle tires or even reopen Route 66 — whatever it takes to get our kids back on the road.

Todd G. Buchholz is the author of “Rush: Why You Need and Love the Rat Race.” Victoria Buchholz, a student at Cambridge University, is at work on a book about the neuropsychology of the teenage brain.

17 Comments

17 Comments


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[-] 3 points by alterorabolish1 (569) 2 years ago

We can agree that complacency is not desirable just as we might agree that contentment is desirable. Luck doesn't count more than effort, but luck counts more than it did when the passion of "Born to Run" was released. Opportunity has decreased and that's why I'm on this forum.

Youth today may not be slouching, but hoping the "boomers" reverse the direction we've been on for the last few decades where there's now a new golden rule. He who has the gold, makes the rules. The original golden rule was much better.

[-] 3 points by Pidge (18) 2 years ago

So, we should move to North Dakota? The implication here is that young people are lazy and don't want to work. The old 'ya just gotta work harder' thing - only - after the economic meltdown and the robbery of our citizens by Wall Street, and the fact that the perpetrators were rewarded instead of incarcerated - maybe THAT is playing a role in why young people find the present system to be a farce and that the deck is stacked againbst them.

Too bad those pilgrims, in fleeing from the oppressive church of England, decided to exploit and abuse native Americans who tried to help them.

As far as staying at home with the parents, perhaps it's because young people can't afford to have places of their own on these 8$ an hour jobs they're offered, after they obtain obscenely expensive educations.

They've had enough. So you get Occupy, and it's about time.

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[-] 0 points by ibanker (-99) 2 years ago

Hey I paid my rent by working part time jobs and that wasnt a long time ago because I only graduated last year.

[-] -1 points by ibanker (-99) 2 years ago

I see too much of a fatalist mentality here (or in layman terms the loser mentality). You complain that the game is rigged and stuff like that. And this you are saying when you life in the 'land of opportunities', America. If you had been born in a third world country or say even Africa I guess you would have commited suicide.

I don't know which 'young people' you are talking about because the young people I have grown up with and who were my classmates are all doing reasonably well.

And even at $8 an hour job, you can find a place to stay. You may not live all that comfortably but you will live (I worked at the cateria for a few months initially). Also, there are jobs that students can avail that pay more than min wage.

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (9780) 2 years ago

Yes, this trampled down, ratcheted down, debt ridden generation just "have to show some innitiative and inherit a fortune."

Talk about blaming the victim!

Well, we've heard the privilaged verson from the NYT and Harvard at any rate.

Yeah, just take that $300 dollars you saved from working at Walmart, and cross that bridge to nowhere. North Dakota? Are you serious, I bet there's a few good jobs in the Siberian Oil Fields too! I recommend them to the writer of this article.

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[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Is the clown who wrote this a libe(R)tarian?

it's quite stuffy and out of touch.

[-] -1 points by ibanker (-99) 2 years ago

The stats hold whatever the political leanings of the author may be

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Not really.

It's a rather poor interpretation of what today's youth are going through.

It's stuffy and out of touch.

Kind of like libe(R)tarianism.

It completely ignores what's being marketed to them.

A whole lot like libe(R)tarianism.

[-] -2 points by ibanker (-99) 2 years ago

Wont try to argue or covince you. It would be a waste of both our time. No internet argument has ever been won and i am not feeling particularly lucky

[-] 2 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Then why are you here, and posting this kind of thing?

Self affirmation, of mis-truths?

[-] 1 points by beautifulworld (20825) 2 years ago

Every teenager I know can't wait to get their driver's license. Don't know what this guy is talking about??!!

[-] 1 points by TitusMoans (2451) from Boulder City, NV 2 years ago

Did you ever read the The Grapes of Wrath?

Grandma survived; grandpa died.

The story is all about the oppression of the 99%, and how they survive in spite of the stacked deck against them.

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[-] 1 points by PandoraK (1678) 2 years ago

I witnessed the last 'great migration'...in the '80's our erstwhile President stated, there are over 4,000 jobs listed in the NY Times. He announced that all one had to do was to move to become gainfully employed.

As I trucker (Owned a small trucking firm) I had a 'front row seat'' to the phenomenon.

Families packed up everything they owned and could carry into pickups and small trailers, and with their last unemployment check (I say last because unemployment used to be mailed in check form and one needed an address to receive it), and began the great migration.

Rest areas began to look like camp grounds, grills set up and canvas leans for shelter. Cars broken down, and fathers begging for a few dollars or someone to help repair the car, enough gas to make it home, where there was family to lean on in hard times.

Those who won through, arrived at their destinations, found that the jobs weren't as plentiful as they had believed, some struggled through, with help from the state, some found their way back to familiar territories...eventually the states which jobs were claimed for, had to reduce the amount of help offered to new arrivals, some states lacked housing for them, even if employment was available.

Mr. Reagan's recession looked a lot like a depression from where I was sitting.

My generation started with hope, hope that a simple move would open opportunities...for many of my generation those hopes were dashed, by the simple realities.

We didn't have social networking online, heck there weren't all that many personal computers among the 'rank and file' let alone internet access.

Today we hear about employment opportunities via the media, but we don't have to relocate 'bag and baggage' to new climes...we can access the social networks available to us, and ask our questions before we spend one dime on a move...we can discover the housing availability, work availability with a few simple key strokes.

I'm from Minnesota, so the seasons in a place like ND would be quite expected for someone like me...someone from TX, Southern CA, FL would have quite a shock come September or October, never mind December, January, February, or March, snow storms aren't even all that uncommon in early April.

Our pioneers faced a untrampled land, a horse, ox, ax and gun could win the day...today we move and we don't find land for the taking, trees to cut for homes...it's a different world, different time...

Our Dust Bowl movers, moved because they had to, yet they moved to climates where short term living outdoors wasn't an issue, even in the coldest months.

Long ago and not so far away, our 'movers' followed pathways created by the wanderers, and they moved in groups, aiding each other in good times and bad...today we don't do this, we've been taught that there are islands and we are them.

[-] 0 points by pavonianewport (11) 2 years ago

That's whats holding me back actually! My own brother won't let me in his house, nor will my aunts and cousins. I don't know if its generation...its probably just a sick mentality drilled into peoples heads lately. That you must let people die and fend for themselves.

[-] 1 points by DanielBarton (1345) 2 years ago

sounds about right to me

[-] -1 points by worldwide (6) 2 years ago

Young people are being trained to not compete, look at the posters here, they have absolutely no idea of how to progress in our economy. They have been told it's rigged, a crap game, the deck is stacked.

The one reality is that you have built in failure. Look at your life right now, you have guaranteed that it will never improve beyond what you can see.

Ask yourself the question; who benefits from your reliance on government instead of yourself? Clue, it isn't you.

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[-] -1 points by ibanker (-99) 2 years ago

mine has become the 'everyone gets a trophy' generation

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